(Staff writer Carroll Rogers is filling in for David O’Brien today.)
In case you don’t know it by now, or are going by your magnetic schedule, today’s game is not at 4:10 anymore. Fox dropped it. So go out and spend some quality time with someone you care about and come back around at 7:10.
Or just hang out with lowly types like me who have to work on a Saturday, and stay on the blog.
In case you didn’t know it Part II, the Phillies won last night on a 12th inning game-winning hit by Placido Polanco to score Jimmy Rollins. This was after Brad Lidge balked in the trying run with the bases loaded to blow a save in the ninth. For the first time in 10 days where both teams played, the Braves finally gave ground. Their lead in the NL East is down to two games.
The Phillies just snapped their four-game losing streak, the Braves could use a little of the same. They’ve got the guy going tonight they’d probably hand pick for the occasion in Tim Hudson. Even he was a little wobbly out in Colorado (four runs in six innings), but he’s been good after a loss.
Hudson has won each of his last four starts when pitching after a Braves loss: there was the 8-0 win over the Padres July 22, a win at Washington July 28, an Aug. 2 win over Johan Santana and the Mets following back-to-back Braves losses in Cincinnati, and eight shutout innings in a win on Aug. 7 against the Giants.
For the season, Hudson is 6-2 in games after the Braves lost. (And yes, he’s failed to win his past two starts since he started sporting a beard. I only saw him out of the corner of my eye last night, while talking to Tommy Hanson, so I’m not sure if it’s gone. We’ll have to see.)
The Marlins are pitching Ricky Nolasco, who isn’t exactly a pushover. He leads the Marlins in wins (14) and beat Hudson in a 3-2 win July 4.
Nolasco was scratched from his last start and a question mark for tonight’s start with a torn medial meniscus in his right knee, which will probably require surgery after the season.
He actually injured it tying his shoe, from what I read (For real?!). But he’s passed all his tests this week to get back out on the mound, including PFPs (pitcher’s fielding practice). You still might see the Braves try to drop some bunts on him and see how he holds up while fielding his position.
The Braves have a hard time seeing Nolasco in general; he’s had double digit strikeouts in two of his past three starts against them – 11 on July 4, and 16 last Sept. 30.
Rough vs. NL East
After last night’s 7-1 loss, the season series with the Marlins is even at 5-5. The Braves are really not getting it done against division opponents. They’re at 23-22 against the NL East for the year, including 5-6 against the Mets, 7-5 against the Phillies and 6-6 against the Nationals. This team has 27 of its next 34 games to finish out the season against the NL East. Better figure a way. (Their only games left outside the division are three at Pittsburgh and four at home against the Cardinals.)
A good place to start would be keeping Dan Uggla in the yard. For his career, Uggla has hit 22 home runs in 81 games against Atlanta. He’s hit four off Braves pitching this year in 10 games, including one of four home runs against Hanson last night.
Just had a look at Eric Hinske’s splits, and it’s pretty obvious, the drop-off he’s going through.….He hit .308 in April, .339 in May, .260 in June, .212 in July and through Friday night’s game is hitting only .116 in August (5-for-43).
Given that Troy Glaus is showing signs of offensive life in Gwinnett (hitting .421, 8-for-19 through five games) and has played error-free for the last few games, maybe the Braves do try Glaus for a couple of games at third, put Martin Prado back at second and move Omar Infante out to left. They’ll have some options anyway. But Glaus isn’t eligible to come off the disabled list until Thursday.
I know Prado looked last night like he was in a good bit of pain in his pinky finger after making that throw on a Brad Davis slow roller. Maybe he’d still rather stay at third to try to protect the finger from all the action you get with double plays at second base. We’ll just have to see how this plays out.
Jones on third base
I’m not sure why I even thought I needed to address this, with the obvious emergence of Freddie Freeman, Mr. Heir Apparent at first base. But I thought I read some questions on twitter and/or the blog about whether Jones would try to make his comeback from knee surgery at first base. The answer is no.
“I’ve never played over there,” Jones said. “I’m a left side of the infield guy. I’m just going to rehab like I’m going to go play third and if we’ve got to make adjustments, we make adjustments.”
It’s hard to imagine what those adjustments would be, unless there was some unforeseen injury. But we’ve seen from Glaus, that a conversion to first base is not as simple as many make it out to be. And with Freeman ready to bust out, it would seem unnecessary.
“I’ve said all along I’m going to play third until somebody in this organization proves to me they’re better than me,” Jones said.
“As long as I feel like I’m the best third baseman in this organization, that’s where I want to be. Then when somebody comes along and proves that to me, I’ll either move to another spot or ride off into the sunset.”
OK, more from the ballpark in a couple of hours.